Loki and the giantess Angrboda
Loki is a trickster god known for his cunning and deception. While he causes trouble among the gods, he also assists them on occasion. He is neither fully good nor fully evil.
In the myths, this trickster deity had multiple multiple consorts, most notably the goddess Sigyn and the giantess Angrboda. Their unions produced notable offspring, including Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel, pivotal figures in Norse myths.
Angrboda: Origin story and meaning
Angrboda is a figure in Norse mythology known predominantly for her relationship with the trickster god Loki and their monstrous offspring.
Her sole reference in the “Poetic Edda,” a primary source of Norse myths, identifies her as the mother of the wolf Fenrir with Loki.
However, the “Prose Edda” provides a more detailed portrayal: she is described as a giantess from Jötunheimar, the land of the giants. This source credits her with birthing three notable monsters fathered by Loki: Fenrir the wolf, Jörmungandr (the Midgard serpent that encircles the world), and Hel, who presides over the realm of the dead.
Despite these significant offspring, her own character details remain largely in the background, highlighting her role as a progenitor of some of the most fearsome figures in Norse lore.
The name “Angrboða” in Old Norse can be broken down into its constituent elements for translation. “Angr” means “grief” or “sorrow,” and “boða” relates to “to offer” or “to bid.”
Thus, when the two parts are combined, Angrboða’s name can be interpreted as “the one who brings grief,” “she-who-offers-sorrow,” or “harm-bidder.” Such a name reflects her association in Norse mythology with producing monstrous offspring with Loki, creatures that brought significant turmoil and distress to the Aesir gods.
READ MORE: Most Famous Norse Gods and Goddesses
Loki and Angrboda
Loki, the trickster god, had affairs outside of his marriage to Sigyn. One of his most notable relationships was with Angrboda, a giantess from Jotunheim, the land of the giants.
From their union, three fearsome and legendary offspring were born:
A massive wolf with strength and ferocity that knew no bounds. The gods, fearing Fenrir’s power, tried to bind him with various chains, but he broke free from all of them. Eventually, the gods managed to bind Fenrir with a magical ribbon called Gleipnir, made from six mythical ingredients, including the sound of a cat’s footsteps and the beard of a woman. It was foretold that during Ragnarok, Fenrir would break free and swallow Odin.
Jörmungandr (The Midgard Serpent)
A giant sea serpent so large that it could encircle the world, biting its own tail. This creature and Thor, the god of thunder, shared mutual animosity. Their final confrontation during Ragnarok results in both their deaths: Thor manages to kill Jormungandr but dies from its venom soon after.
The least monstrous in appearance of the three, she was given dominion over the underworld (also named Hel) by Odin. In this realm, she presided over the souls of those who died of old age or sickness. She’s often depicted as being half-alive and half-dead, with one side of her body vibrant and the other side decayed.
READ MORE: How did Odin lose one of his eyes?
Importance and symbolism
The offspring of Loki and Angrboda play crucial roles in the prophesied end of the world, Ragnarok. Their existences, combined with their fates, are intertwined with the gods’ and the world’s eventual destruction and rebirth.
In some interpretations, their births can be seen as a manifestation of Loki’s disruptive nature within the Norse pantheon and the broader cosmos. Whereas the Aesir gods represent order and structure, Loki and his progeny often symbolize chaos, unpredictability, and the uncontrollable forces of nature and fate.
Saturn’s moon Angrboda
Angrboda, designated as Saturn LV, is one of Saturn’s natural moons. Before it was officially named, it was temporarily referred to as S/2004 S 22 based on its discovery details.
The moon was discovered by astronomers Scott S. Sheppard, David C. Jewitt, and Jan Kleyna, and they announced their findings to the world on October 7, 2019.
However, the observations which led to the discovery of this moon date back to a period between December 12, 2004, and February 1, 2006.
It was only in August 2021 that this celestial body was given its permanent designation as Saturn LV.
Further cementing its identity in the realm of astronomy, it was officially named Angrboda on August 24, 2022. This name isn’t random; it draws from Norse mythology, where Angrboða is known as a jötunn (a type of mythological giant or giantess).
Saturn’s moon Angrboda measures at approximately 3 kilometers across, which is roughly the size of a small town. It orbits Saturn at an average distance of 20.636 Giga-meters (Gm) — to give context, 1 Giga-meter equals 1 billion meters or 1 million kilometers. So, Angrboda is situated over 20 million kilometers away from Saturn during its orbit.
It takes Angrboda about 1107.13 days, or a little over three years, to complete one full orbit around Saturn. Unlike many moons that orbit in the same direction as their planets rotate (prograde orbit), Angrboda has a retrograde orbit, meaning it orbits Saturn in the opposite direction to Saturn’s rotation.
Its orbit is inclined at 177° to the ecliptic, which is the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This steep inclination indicates that its orbital path is nearly opposite to the usual path most other celestial bodies take around Saturn.
Lastly, Angrboda’s orbit has an eccentricity of 0.251. Eccentricity measures the deviation of an orbit from being perfectly circular. A value of 0 means the orbit is perfectly circular, while a value close to 1 indicates a highly elliptical (or stretched out) orbit. Angrboda’s eccentricity of 0.251 suggests its orbit is somewhat elliptical, but not extremely so.